Polish racing driver Robert Kubica will spend at least one whole year recovering from a rally crash he suffered this morning, according to his surgeon.
Kubica, who races for Renault Lotus crashed the Skoda Fabia rally car this morning and was airlifted to hospital suffering serious injuries.
He has spent many hours in surgery, with rumour speculating around the internet about his condition. However tonight, his surgeon has told reporters that he will spend 5 days in intensive care and will need at least one year to rehabilitate his right hand. His hand shattered in the accident, along with fractures to his right arm and leg.
Initially it was suspected the Pole could have his right hand amputated,however surgeons were confident they could save it. His doctor has now said it could take a week to decide if he will regain full functionality.
“We have to wait at least a week to see if his hand survives,” Professor Igor Rossello told Italian media, referring to the likelihood of a return to full functionality. He added that it could take a year for the Pole to be able to use his right arm again.
Racing drivers from around the world have been quick to send in messages of support, and Fernando Alonso has already flown in to visit Robert in hospital. Michael Schumacher is rumoured to be on his way to visit also.
Bruno Senna could well be drafted in to race as Renault Lotus’ spare driver in the short term at least. Whether the team decide to bring in another driver for the season is unknown.
We wish Robert Kubica all the best. Our thoughts and prayers are with him tonight.
UPDATE ON KUBICA’s CONDITION: http://wp.me/p3uiu-11K
Renault Lotus F1 driver Robert Kubica has been airlifted to hospital following a car accident while competing on a rally.
The incident, described as a high speed accident, left the Pole injured and he had to be airlifted to hospital. His co-driver Jakub Gerber was uninjured in the incident.
While he has remained conscious throughout the whole incident, the extent of Kubica’s injuries are as yet unknown. Reports are variable, with some suggesting he has fractured a wrist, while others say he has broken both legs. Speculation as ever with such incidents is rife.
Renault have released a minor statement, with a press conference that has been pushed back to 3pm GMT.
“Robert Kubica suffered an accident at high speed this morning while competing in the Ronde di Andora Rally,” a Renault statement said. “The driver was airlifted to Pietra Ligure Hospital, where he is currently undergoing medical checks. His co-driver is fine. [We] will issue another statement as soon as more information is known about Robert’s condition.”
Kubica is a well known Rally enthusiast, he and other drivers have competed in many events such as this one before. However with the incident potentially ruining the start, or all of his season perhaps drivers will now be banned from competing in such events by their employers.
We will get a post up as soon as the press conference is over this afternoon with more information. Right now though, our thoughts are with Robert.
Various drivers had the opportunity to test the new Pirelli tyres today in the first test at Abu Dhabi. While only driving their 2010 machines, it will give them the chance to evaluate the new rubber from the Italian manufacturer.
Here’s what a variety of the drivers thought about the tyres following the test.
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing):
“Given the short amount of time Pirelli had, I think they did a good job,” said world champion Sebastian Vettel, who set the second-fastest time of the day. “It’s a good start and it was good to be back in the car.
“You need to give the car a bit of time to adapt to the tyres. We need to work on the set-up, but I think it’s a common view that the tyres have behaved pretty well and probably better than a lot of people expected.”
Rubens Barrichello (Williams):
“I’ve been positively impressed,” said Barrichello. “The track is a little bit different because I think they polished the asphalt because of the Bridgestone rubber.
“I don’t think it’s time to make comparisons, but I thought it was positive. I did 42 laps in the morning and it was okay. They are different to Bridgestones and we need to keep learning. We could not expect a completely different tyre to work the same way. I quite like the challenge.”
Felipe Massa (Ferrari):
“The harder compound has a lot of degradation and it’s not as quick as I expected,” Massa said.
“As for the softer tyre, I was very happy with it. It’s quick, degradation is very good. I did long runs with both and the one I did with the softer tyre was very good, possibly better than what I had last Sunday in the race.
“Of course, again, they’ll have to work to improve the harder compound they brought here, but that’s what this test was all about. Pirelli saw what happened, listened to our suggestions and understood the situation.”
Robert Kubica (Renault):
“It’s difficult to compare because we had a race five days ago and the track has changed quite a lot due to the testing and the rubber that was laid down,” said Kubica. “I’m sure that the track grip is much better than it was in the race.
“This makes it difficult to compare them – there’s no point really in comparing them. There’s quite a big difference. It is always pretty interesting when you change tyres to feel the difference and make some set-up changes and stuff like this.
“It’s just to get an idea for next year’s car which characteristics will work best. We will never get track conditions with so much rubber on the race weekends, so actually I don’t think it’s so significant, this test. A lot of the young drivers had many sets of new tyres! Although the track was washed yesterday, I didn’t recognise it. It was like a different track.”
Nico Rosberg (Mercedes Benz):
“They’re at least similar [to Bridgestone’s] or perhaps for worse for us at the moment”
“…In the big picture, they are pretty similar in the end to the Bridgestones, but if you are then looking for the fine tuning to extract the performance there is some way to go on adapting the set-up.
“At the moment, we have done the small things that you can do at the track but there are the bigger things that you need to take care of with the car development. That’s going to be one of the areas that are very important for success for next year.”
Robert Kubica has said he is predicting a lottery over the weather conditions at the forthcoming Brazilian Grand Prix is previous races are anything to go by.
The Polish driver believes that anything is possible in the penultimate round of the season, where Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel all go head to head in their attempts to gain a points lead into the final race of the season in their hopes to win the World Championship.
Kubica, who scored a surprise podium finish last year with BMW, is hoping for another surprise good result this weekend.
“Brazil is a bit of a strange track and it’s really difficult to predict how we will perform,” said Kubica in a team preview.
“There is a long straight out of the last corner where the F-duct will give us lots of gain and this is also where the power of the engine will be important.
“I think that we might have a lottery with the weather because Brazil gets unsettled conditions at this time of year, so it’s likely we will have some wet running, as we did in 2009.
“When it rains the track has very poor grip and you have to be lucky to get the perfect balance with the car.”
He added: “I had a good result there last year, which came as a big surprise. It will be difficult to repeat it this year, but as I said the weather can play a big role at Interlagos and anything can happen there.”
Kimi Raikkonen has always been a whirlwind character, a proper playboy – the modern day James Hunt if you please. Back in 2001 he came out of nowehere to join Sauber, and immediately proved a quick racer. A few years with McLaren and those oh so nearly titles, led him to go off to Ferrari and take his first and only F1 crown in 2007. A tough 2008 and 2009 meant that he walked away from F1 to spend the current year in World Rally.
The World Rally experience has been very tough for the Finn, who only has a handful of finishes to his name let alone winning an event. Again, in the current French World Rally he crashed and went from 7th down to 50th place.
Since leaving, there has been massive speculation about him returning to Formula One. Initially with Red Bull, although now that looks unlikely as Webber and Vettel will be retained for next year. Some link Raikkonen with a return to Ferrari, to replace the underperforming Felipe Massa but the more likely scenario is that Raikkonen heads off to Renault.
Renault have been a resurgent force this season. The manufacturer sold out to Genii Capital Group following the crash gate saga, and with a new management, technical and driver team they have had some great results including podium finishes. Robert Kubica has proved a solid driver choice, although Vitaly Petrov less so. The rookie Russian has had sparks of brilliance, but all too often is off the pace or ending his races in the wall. In Singapore, he was slow and then crashed out in qualifying.
The problems with Petrov have caused him not to get a contract for next season just yet, with Renault boss Eric Boullier confirming they are talking to Raikkonen about a return to F1.
“It is definitely getting closer to when we will make a decision,” Boullier told Autosport. “But we really want to consider all of the options.
“I decided to tell some drivers that we will not carry on discussions with them, so we know wait and see – but Kimi remains one of our scenarios.
“I have said many times that I want to meet with him first before we do anything more. I want to understand more about his wish to come back.”
Like many drivers, Raikkonen has said that once he won the world championship there was little point in staying in F1. However, with his WRC career not looking good, and the 2011 cars appearing to take some adapting to, perhaps now is the right time for a come back. Renault might not have been his choice some seasons ago, but now it might not be such a raw deal. 2010 has proven they can design and produce a good car, even on a budget. With Raikkonen at the wheel there is no reason why it shouldn’t win races.
Kimi doesn’t need the money now, so it would probably best for him not to ask for a Ferrari level salary. It was assumed in 2008 he was paid some $52million by the Scuderia. Renault hold concerns over the possibly outlay on wages, however they should consider the amount of sponsorship and interest they could gain from having him on board. More sponsors could be attracted to the cars, and Raikkonen has a loyal band of supporters who would raid the merchandise section and give Renault a huge presence at the races.
I really do hope Kimi does return to F1, as that would make 2011 a truly thrilling prospect. Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Button as world champions – maybe a new one to add to that list but we won’t know until the end of the year! Add into that mix Vettel, Webber, Rosberg and Kubica and it looks like it could be a classic season.
Adrian Sutil, the talented Force India driver has told GrandPrix.com that he is keeping his options open with regard any future race seats.
The German driver, who has begun to start scoring consistent points finishes with Force India had until recently spent majority of his F1 career at the back of the grid. However with a rejuvinated Force India team results had been going his way, and he currently lies 10th in the championship ahead of the likes of Rubens Barrichello.
Things have not been quite so rosy for him in the last two races though. At his home event at Hockenheim, a pitlane error caused him to finish the race at the back and saw his team get fined. Then last weekend in Hungary he scored a DNF following a collision with Robert Kubica.
Sutil has been courted by teams in the past, but this is the first time he has openly suggested he may move. With the top teams all being locked down for 2011, his main option for move appears to be with Renault. Talented Russian Vitaly Petrov could be on his way out of the team, and Sutil is in high contention for the race seat fighting against the likes of Kimi Raikkonen, Timo Glock and Bruno Senna.
“I’m happy at Force India but I want to move forward,” Sutil said this morning
“The top teams are pretty much closed, so it’s hard to find a better seat than here.
“Scoring points regularly was my goal for this season and next year I want to improve again, whether it’s somewhere else, or here.”
He added: “It’s a tough decision to make right now.
“If you are signing up for something like three years and you’re not confident the team is better, then you shouldn’t do it.”
Kimi Raikkonen has backed away from claims he was about to make a shock return to Formula One next season with the Renault team.
Raikkonen, who won the F1 world championship in 2007, left the sport at the end of last season. He now races in World Rally with the Citroen Junior Team in partnership with Red Bull.
Reports from within the Renault team camp suggested that they had made an offer for Kimi to join Robert Kubica at the team for next season replacing Vitaly Petrov. However today Raikkonen suggested he was happy with rallying, for the time being at least.
“I don’t miss Formula 1 and I am enjoying what I am doing now,” Raikkonen told reporters
“I have still not decided what I am doing next year yet. Soon I have to decide, maybe it will be just after Rally Finland.”
Meanwhile Oliver Quesnel of Citroen Motorsport was confident the Finn would sign for another season.
“I’m sure this will happen,” he said. “For myself, he is really involved in rallying and he wants to succeed. I will be pleased if he will stay. he has done one year and he needs to do one more year to make sure.”
Red Bull are said to be very happy with their partnership with Raikkonen, and there is still a possibility he could return to F1 in 2012 but with the high flying Red Bull team in place of Mark Webber. He would theoretically be racing alongside Sebastian Vettel.